Scripture: But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty… Exodus 3:19-21 ESV
Observation: Having revealed to Moses that he is Yahweh (I Am), the Lord tells Moses to go first to Israel’s elders and pronounce that their God promises to deliver the nation from Pharaoh’s oppression and lead them to Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey—and the elders will listen to Moses, unlike Pharaoh (3:16-18). He then instructs Moses to take the elders to Pharaoh and politely request that Egypt’s ruler let their people go on a three-day journey into the wilderness to make sacrifices to “the God of the Hebrews” (3:18). And God adds that Pharaoh will not comply until encountering extreme duress when the Lord performs supernatural wonders (afflictions); see above verses. Moreover, God will change the Egyptian’s perspective: they will fear this once subservient nation of Israel and seek their favor by providing them with sacrifices of silver and gold jewelry and clothing (3:21-22).
Takeaway: There are a couple of takeaways. First, God provides human support for Moses: the elders. Moses does not have to go alone and will operate with a team. Second, while the action plan will have setbacks, the obstacles are part of the redemptive plan. Indeed, God will orchestrate through suffering a changed perspective for all concerned. As the plagues mount with pain and loss, the Egyptians will beg Israel to go and make sacrifices to their God and even present gifts that ironically will later adorn the tabernacle and priestly vestments. And the Israelites will come to understand that they can do nothing apart from God and that persevering hardship builds strength to fight future battles.
What does this mean for you and me? The same. While there may be unique instances where God calls us to fly solo, often, we need to build a team to fulfill his plan. And as the team discerns and implements steps, there will be painful setbacks because we live in a fallen world. So “keep calm and carry on,” for God uses them to change our perspective and strengthen us to navigate future obstacles as opportunities to accomplish his redemptive purposes.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son who navigated every obstacle of his enemies to carry on to his anointed crucifixion and fulfill your redemptive mission. Would you please help us work as a team focused on Christ and attuned to your Holy Spirit that we might gain your perspective regarding obstacles and seize the new opportunities before us? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling